The Brick Moon and Other Stories
The Survivor's Story
Fortunately we were with our wives.
It is in general an excellent custom, as I will explain if opportunity is given.
First, you are thus sure of good company.
For four mortal hours we had ground along, and stopped and waited and started again, in
the drifts between Westfield and Springfield. We had shrieked out our woes by the voices
of five engines. Brave men had dug. Patient men had sat inside and waited for the results
of the digging. At last, in triumph, at eleven and three quarters, as they say in
"Cinderella," we entered the Springfield station.
It was Christmas Eve!
Leaving the train to its devices, Blatchford and his wife (her name was Sarah), and I with
mine (her name was Phebe), walked quickly with our little sacks out of the station,
ploughed and waded along the white street, not to the Massasoit--no, but to the old Eagle
and Star, which was still standing, and was a favorite with us youngsters. Good waffles,
maple syrup ad lib., such fixings of other sorts as we preferred, and some liberty. The
amount of liberty in absolutely first-class hotels is but small. A drowsy boy waked, and
turned up the gas. Blatchford entered our names on the register, and cried at once, "By
George, Wolfgang is here, and Dick! What luck!" for Dick and Wolfgang also travel with
their wives. The boy explained that they had come up the river in the New Haven train,
were only nine hours behind time, had arrived at ten, and had just finished supper and
gone to bed. We ordered rare beefsteak, waffles, dip-toast, omelettes with kidneys, and
omelettes without; we toasted our feet at the open fire in the parlor; we ate the supper
when it was ready; and we also went to bed; rejoicing that we had home with us, having
travelled with our wives; and that we could keep our Merry Christmas here. If only
Wolfgang and Dick and their wives would join us, all would be well. (Wolfgang's wife
was named Bertha, and Dick's was named Hosanna,--a name I have never met with
Bed followed; and I am a graceless dog that I do not write a sonnet here on the unbroken
slumber that followed. Breakfast, by arrangement of us four, at nine. At 9.30, to us enter
Bertha, Dick, Hosanna, and Wolfgang, to name them in alphabetical order. Four chairs
had been turned down for them. Four chops, four omelettes, and four small oval dishes of
fried potatoes had been ordered, and now appeared. Immense shouting, immense kissing
among those who had that privilege, general wondering, and great congratulating that our
wives were there. Solid resolution that we would advance no farther. Here, and here only,
in Springfield itself, would we celebrate our Christmas Day.